There's a reason that the Caribbean is one of the most popular travel regions in the world. Beautiful beaches, luxury hotels and great cuisine — no wonder destinations such as Puerto Rico, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic are consistently flooded with sun-seeking vacationers. But if you're looking for a quieter and more off-the-grid trip, skip the expensive resorts in favor of spots that are less visited but no less gorgeous. Here are seven islands you may not know about but should definitely consider visiting.

1. Dominica 

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Nature lovers, Dominica is your paradise. Located between Martinique and Guadeloupe, this former British colony is home to the longest hiking trail in the Caribbean, Waitukubuli, which spans a massive 115 miles and various terrains, taking you from coastline to waterfalls to mountain views. Stay at Secret Bay, an ecofriendly resort with tree-house-like villas. You’ll achieve ultimate bliss relaxing on the secluded black-sand beach far, far away from city life. Make an excursion to Bush Bar, a tucked-away drinking destination in the middle of the slow-moving Indian River, which is so scenic that part of Pirates of the Caribbean 2 was filmed there. Plus, Captain Jack Sparrow would definitely approve of the rum cocktails.

Secret Bay, Ross Blvd., Portsmouth, Dominica. +1 767 445 4444; 
secretbay.dm
Bush Bar, Indian River, Dominica


 

2. Saba

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The etymology of this tiny municipality's name is disputed, but the argument that it comes from the word for “rock” in Arawak Indian is a good one — it's a fitting moniker for this rugged chunk of land jutting out from the sea. Even getting here is thrilling — landing at Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport involves descending between cliffs on what's reported to be the world’s shortest runway (400 meters).

Stay at Saba Ecolodge, a charming, budget-friendly inn on Mount Scenery. The off-grid cabins comfortably sleep two people, with a bathroom with a rain catchment shower and a low-water composting toilet for minimum environmental impact. It’s a nice break from our hypermodern, industrial world. Saba’s underwater life is spectacular, so head to David’s Dropoff for a diving experience amid boulders, sharks and dolphins. You might even spot the remains of a stolen, sunken sailboat somewhere in the mix. 

Saba Ecolodge, top of Mountain Rd., Windwardside, Saba. +599 416 1454; 
saba-ecolodge.com​


 

3. St. Vincent, Canouan & Bequia

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Okay, so this is actually three islands. They're all part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a country that includes 32 islands, nine of which are inhabited. There are plenty of options for sports and leisure, including hiking through rain forests, sailing and exploring volcanoes. If you want to go super luxe, stay at the newly opened, exclusive Pink Sands Club on Canouan. It comprises suites, villas and estate residences that overlook white-sand beaches and are near one of the biggest living coral reefs. Golfers, the Canouan Golf Club is considered to be one of the best in the world. Island hoppers, check out Black Pearl Restaurant on Bequia. On Wednesday nights during high season it offers an alfresco West Indian BBQ with a live string band. 

Pink Sands Club, Carenage Bay, Canouan Island, VC 0450, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. +1 784 431 4500; pinksandsclub.com​
Black Pearl Restaurant, Port Elizabeth, Bequia, Charlotte, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, +1 784 432 8652; Facebook


 

4. Nevis 

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Nevis, birthplace of the trendiest American founding father, is home to one of the most challenging hiking paths in the Caribbean, which takes you to the summit of Nevis Peak. If you like to check quirky historical landmarks off your travel bucket list, visit the Nevis Philatelic Bureau, a museum dedicated to stamps. (As any philatelist will attest, stamps from Nevis are considered rare, beautiful and highly collectible, so make sure to buy some when you visit.)

As for where to stay: Paradise Beach is a beautiful property with an emphasis on privacy. It features seven beachfront villas, which all include kitchens so you can cook your own meals (or hire a chef from the resort, if that's how you roll). Paradise Beach is ideal for a luxe family vacation or a friends' getaway.

Nevis Philatelic Bureau, Head Post Office, Market St., Charlestown, Nevis, W.I. +1 
869 469 5535; nevis1.com
Paradise Estates, St. Thomas' Parish, St. Kitts & Nevis. +1 869 469 7900; paradisebeachnevis.com​


 

5. Barbuda

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Barbuda, in the Eastern Caribbean, is notable for its pink-sand beaches. With a population of about 1,800 people, the island has a village vibe. Head to the Barbudan bush to spot deer, wild boar and guinea fowl. Wannabe spelunkers, there are several caves perfect for climbing, exploring and bat spotting. Stay at the ecofriendly, beachfront rental homes known as Barbuda Cottages. The three-bedroom cottages run $450 a night, modest for oceanfront properties on pristine beaches whose sand feels like baby powder. Unless you have your own sailboat or private jet, you’re likely connecting through the much larger sister island of Antigua. There, head to Le Bistro, a French restaurant where you can treat yourself to the trio of lobster, mahi mahi and snapper.

Barbuda Cottages, 1 Beach Front Rd., Codrington Village, Barbuda. +1 268-722-3050; 
barbudacottages.com
Le Bistro, Hodges Bay, St. Georges, Antigua. +1 268 462 3881; antigualebistro.com


 

6. Tortola

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Tortola is the largest of the British Virgin Islands and a popular yachting destination. You can relax on white sand beaches (there are dozens) or go fishing at Soper’s Hole, Brandywine Bay or Trellis Bay. This is the place to be if you love rum: Go to Callwood Rum Distillery, where you can visit the still-functional sugar cane distillery and bring home samples to drink tearfully when your vacation is over. Stay at Mango Bay Resort, which is right on the water and has tons of watersport offerings. Learn how to windsurf, paddleboard or waterski in the bay in front of the hotel. You can also enjoy a half- or full-day trip on the power yacht, the Pampered Pirate

Callwood Rum Distillery, Cane Garden Bay, British Virgin Islands. +1 284 495 9383; Facebook
Mango Bay Resort, Plum Bay Rd., The Valley, Spanish Town, British Virgin Islands. +1 284 495 5672; 
mangobayresort.com


 

7. Mustique

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Mustique is a private island that's part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and it's pretty much as exclusive as it gets. Don’t be surprised if you rub shoulders with Johnny Depp, Mick Jagger or Kate Moss, as they have all frequented this stunning fleck of land. If you fancy yourself an equestrian, this is the island for you; you can take jumping and dressage lessons or go on a seaside trail ride. Stay at The Cotton House, a historic guesthouse on 13 acres of tropical forest leading to the Atlantic Ocean. For some nighttime action, head to Basil’s Bar, built overwater, to fête with the famous over cocktails. 

The Cotton House, Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. +1 784 456 4777; 
cottonhouse.net
Basil's Bar Mustique, Mustique, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. +1 784 488 8350; Facebook


By Rana Good

Rana Good is a writer and editor who hails from Switzerland but calls New York home. She's on a quest to scour the world for the best eats, sites and experiences and share them with you. Whether she's traversing the wilderness of Mongolia or swimming with sharks in Bora Bora, she's happiest when she's discovering a new place.